I can just imagine the turmoil and anguish he must have gone through before doing the deed. Pacing up and down. His mind wracked with confusion and doubt, and always that question ringing between his ears …
Which of his twenty-two available, fully-loaded and meticulously maintained firearms was he going to use to blow his brains out?
I am a fan of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I was also, and still remain, a fan of Hunter S. Thompson. Admittedly, everything he wrote after Fear and Loathing was rubbish but he is that rare example of a subversive figure who maintained his edge, even after he had achieved success and fame.
OK, he was too smacked out of his face for the last thirty years to write anything worthwhile, but he did withdraw to a compound filled with peacocks, vulture statues, drugs, hard liquor, dynamite and firearms. He didn't die young but he did the next best thing. Big time.
Nope, no toilet paper commercial voice-overs, game show presenting or celebrity telethons for Hunter.
It's hard to retain the fire of youth as you get older. Years ago I did some voluntarily work with disabled grannies. We would take them away on holiday for a few weeks and give their family carers a well-deserved break. We wouldn’t actually take the grannies very far from home. We would drive round in a long loop for a couple of hours and put them up in specially equipped residential facilities, usually no more than 10 miles from where we first collected them. But they were none the wiser. Bless …
The reason why I mention this is that the sitting rooms in these places were always well-stocked with ancient, granny favourite records suitable for group sing alongs; after dinner and a small glass of sherry all round. Even by the admittedly sedate standards of the 1940s these records were dull; dull and slow. I would often wonder what my generation would be like when it was their turn. Would our tastes change as we got older? Would we want to listen to increasingly easy listening music as our eardrums, brains and bladders rotted with age? Or would we still be singing along to the punk and new wave hits of the 1970s and 1980s, jiggling away on our commodes whilst the kids looking after us were nodding away from the sheer tedium of it all …
'Here you are Stef, shall I put on a record? Would you like to listen to some Stranglers? How about Bring on the Nubiles? You like that don’t you? I know. Let's listen to Orgasm Addict. That's your favourite. Come on everybody, sing along …'
When those grannies of old used to complain about modern music being rubbish, their opinion was based on a lifetime of listening almost exclusively to Mafia-connected crooners wurbling to a big band backing. Now some years later, with the benefit of almost 50 years of rock, pop, blues, reggae, ska, funk, techno and all the rest to call upon, a more objective opinion can be reached. Most contemporary music really is crap. And so dull that even my old stable of grannies could probably listen to it without having heart attacks. That's if any of them were still alive that is.
A curious role reversal seems to be taking place. I can quite easily picture a time in the future when 80 year old pensioners, sitting in bacofoil covered anti-gravity wheelchairs, are slagging off their grandchildren for listening to records that are slow, tedious and rubbish and begging them to put on something with a stronger base line.